Internet has grown multiple folds in recent years in Nepal – in terms of penetration, speed and cost effectiveness. Data from the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) shows that Internet penetration in 2017 was 65 percent of the population. The number of Facebook users from Nepal stands around 10 million making it not only the most popular social media but also a very important source of information for the public. Twitter has an estimated user base of two million but it has high impact, as the social and political elites as well as celebrities are increasingly using Twitter as a medium to express themselves.
More than half of the traffic of news portals is referred by social media and a very popular mobile app called Hamropatro. Hamropatro is a calendar app that is a must-have app for those using the Nepali calendar system called Bikram Sambat (BS). From a nifty small utility app, it grew into a full-fledged general app for everything, including push notification of important news from various digital outlets. Search engines are a minor player for Nepali news sites as referrals from search engines are very low.
Nepal’s media use social media – especially Facebook and Twitter – to attract people to their contents whereas television channels use YouTube to share contents. The YouTube partnership program has become a source of revenues for many publishers especially those focusing on entertainment and music. No data is available on Internet advertising revenues but there were reports claiming that candidates of the 2017 General Election in Nepal spent close to €2.5m for advertising in social media (mostly Facebook), targeting youth voters from urban areas.
According to a 2017 survey by the Center for Media Research Nepal, more than three-quarters of Twitter users use Twitter to access news and information; up to 81 percent of them believe that Twitter is a strong medium of communication.